The rain. It does nothing but rain. There is nothing but rain. I have heard of such a thing as sunshine but I cannot remember ever seeing it. It has not snowed for a while and we are thankful for that. The rain, however, is quite cold. A good number of us are sick with catarrh because of the cold. Hancock, Castles, Holton, Crenshaw and myself are all confined to our cabin as being
This places an unfair amount of work upon the healthy, who are not too far from being sick themselves. Hancock and Holton bravely get out of the cabin, defying orders from the medical officer and go to the Rapidan to pull picket so the line along the river will not be otherwise so thin. There has been wet clothing hanging near the fireplace every day for two weeks.
There was some excitement. All of these winter cabins have a fireplace, some made from sticks and mud or barrels or boxes. With all this wood, something is bound to catch fire. Last week, it was our turn. We had only a very few seconds to escape being burned to death. The damage was not severe as here was a good amount of snow just outside to throw on the fire. The worst thing that happened was that the chimney collapsed into our pot of supper. We bedded that night hungry, wet and cold.
We have been subsisting on some small amount of corn meal and almost no meat. Castles found two dead fish that had washed up upon shore while on picket. We ate one and used the other as bait in a trap in the hopes of catching a coon or a possum. What we caught was a skunk which we chose not to consume.
Lieutenant Williamson brought our platoon two parcels and a small crate, each containing contributions from home. None were addressed to any one person but all were for the benefit of we Lancaster Hornets. The crate was from the Ladies'Aid Society of Lancaster and the two parcels were from the Chester Soldier's Relief Association. We have been grateful recipients of their generosity before. The crate did not last long as it was taken apart for firewood.
Inside the crate were two crocks of pickled cucumbers and one crock of pickled okra, which, despite the careful packing in cotton and sawdust, had broken, spoiling the okra. Five of us in the platoon received new cotton shirts, including Terry and Hancock. There were six pairs of cotton stockings and two pair of wool, four pair of drawers and some four dozen handkerchiefs in every design and color known to womanhood. We could tell that they were made from scraps but we did not care.
Neither of the parcels contained any victuals. Lieutenant Williamson, with the help or Corporal Flynn, passed out one dozen pairs of cotton stockings, three cotton shirts, fifteen pairs of drawers, a dozen towels, two kepis, two wool blankets, eight wool scarves and four pair of mittens. While being grateful for what the lovely ladies back home sent to us, we were disappointed that there were no trousers, jackets or overcoats.
From all this bounty, I had received nothing. Lieutenant Williamson must have seen the look on my face as he then gave me something. It was a Confederate flag, our battle flag, tied to a stick. Also tied to the stick was a note. It was written by the same hands as made the flag. It was on patriotic stationary which I have not seen in some time. It read:
To My Soldier,
With my own hands I have made this flag for you. It is small as I am small, too. I pray that it will help you as you fight to protect us from the Yankees
Rose May Talbird
Torbet's Store P.O.
My soldier, she says. I am hers. She sent a cased photograph of herself. She looks all of six or seven. Her hand was quite good for one so young. The Talbirds are an influential family from Beaufort. I wonder if they were among those who fled Beaufort from the Yankees two years ago.
Of course, I will carry this flag and the photograph with me. They will warm me as well as a scarf and mittens.
I Send You These Few Lines-
The true identity of the little girl pictured above is unknown. Her name, Rose May Talbird, is made up. The Talbirds, however, were a prominent family in the Beaufort area. Her, "hand", refers to her penmanship. Torbert's Store Post Office in in Chester County, SC, south of the North Carolina line. I have also seen it spelled Torbit's.
The two relief organizations named in this entry existed during the war as did a great many others. The contents listed here are very typical of what was actually sent from home.
Chimney fires in winter quarters were always something to worry about. The description of the weather is based on contemporary accounts. Seam squirrels are lice. Catarrh is an old term for a cold.
Lieutenant Williamson, Corporal Flynn, Castles, Terry, Hancock, Holton and Crenshaw are names that will be familiar to long time readers of this diary. All did serve in Company I of the 12th South Carolina Infantry. The term, "Lancaster Hornets", above is the nickname for Company I. Keith was one of several medical officers to serve with the 12th during the war.
The bad weather continues to plague those soldiers along both sides of the Rapidan River in the early Spring of 1864. Large scale movements of men, horses and material cannot happen until the roads dry out which might not happen until...tomorrow?